I am a Los Angeles driver with 7 years of experience and more than 18,000 rides overall.
Over the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to use the Uber rental program while my primary Ubering vehicle is in the shop being repaired. Fortunately, I did not have to pay for the rentals and their increased operational costs. Two small accidents where I was not at fault, so the at-fault party’s insurance covered my rental costs and increased fuel costs to make up the difference since I drive a 50+ MPG hybrid.
This allowed me to observe firsthand what it would be like to be a rental driver for Uber without the downside of actually having to pay that cost. What follows is a first-hand lesson in predatory lending. Here is what I learned.
Uber and Lyft are NEVER looking out for the drivers’ best interests. We are simply a human resource ripe for the taking. And these programs are NOT here for our benefit, but theirs.
Last year’s rental was a new Toyota Camry 4 cylinder that got 25MPG, and the second was a new Tesla Model 3. With insurance(both vehicles), the total cost for the Camry was $333/wk. + about $30-35/day in fuel, and the Tesla Model 3 was $400/wk. + about $10 a day in charging fees.
What this means, if I were to drive seven days a week, is that I had to start off $83 in the hole each and every morning with the Camry and $67 in the hole each morning with the Tesla before I would start earning money for myself.
I’ll just let that fragrance fill the room for a moment.
$581 for the Camry.
$469 for the Tesla.
What this means is that even if a rental driver were spending 40 hours per week earning $1000($25/hr.), they would be making much, MUCH less after all of the dust settles.
$1000-$581= $419/40 for a total of $10.48/hr. for the Camry.
$1000-$469= $531/40 for a total of $13.275/hr. for the Tesla.
To put this in perspective, ANY full-time minimum wage job in Los Angeles currently pays $16/hr, plus medical benefits. That means any minimum wage full-time employee working anywhere is making significantly more than the Uber/Lyft rental program drivers. And don’t forget that Los Angeles is one of the highest paying markets for Uber/Lyft drivers.
Drivers in other smaller markets throughout the United States make much less because Uber/Lyft can pay less, and they do, according to each state’s minimum wage laws.
This may be legal, but it does not mean that it is right. It is already hard enough to be a rideshare driver in a world where drivers are being attacked, carjacked, and even murdered more and more often.
If you are one of these people who believe you have no other option, I ask you to reconsider your decision. Your time is your most valuable asset. An asset that you only get one chance to use. Do you really want to look back in regret knowing full well that you are selling your time for as little as $10.48/hr.?
I know I don’t.